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Taming a New Snake

Discussion in 'Kingsnakes' started by aldru, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. aldru

    aldru Member

    hello everyone! new member as well as a new snake owner ... i was wondering what type of behavior is normal for a new california king snake. i purchased her about a week and half ago and she has a terrible habit of biting me EVERY time i get her out of her cage to hold or feed her. is this normal? is there some way to train her not to bite like this? or even to let go? she bit and held onto my finger for about two hours today, i tried to wait her out but finally had to gently pry her off. i have owned and cared for lots of other types of animals (and been bit by plenty haha) but always had an idea of how to train them - this reptile has me stumped though! thanks in advance for any tips you might have!!
  2. aldru

    aldru Member


    here she is being friendly ... haha not much of that unfortunately!
  3. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    What you have there with the snake biting and holding on, is a feeding strike.
    A defensive strike is a "Hit and run".
    Do you possibly have rodent pets that you have been handling or are in the same area so that the snake can smell them? Or even other reptiles that you have been handling since kings are snake eaters?

    As for getting it to release, take a cotton ball with alcohol on it and hold it over their nose.
  4. Itzcoatl

    Itzcoatl Member

    I have a mexican king that ive had for a few weeks, its been perfect up until recently, now every time I open the vivarium, it gets supper defecive.
  5. Jlassiter

    Jlassiter Elite Member

    How often does your king feed?
    And there is a difference between a defensive strike and a feeding response bite and chew.........
    If your king is biting and chewing there will be a need for husbandry improvements....including a thermal gradient without a light source (constant warmth will irritate them for numerous reasons) as well as a humidity gradient with plenty of hides........if the king is a young, growing snake it will need to be fed more than once a week.......handling seems to get them tolerant of you but I prefer my my kings to be wild-like....they breed better when they are not "tamed"........ But I know not everyone breeds their pet snakes. Explain your set up and the snakes past feeding regimen....
  6. AjaMichelle

    AjaMichelle Elite Member

    Hi Itzcoatl, you should start a new thread dedicated specifically to your snake instead of answering follow up questions on this thread. It'll keep things from becoming confusing as you and the OP surely have different details with respect to each snake and husbandry. These details are essential for figuring out how to respond to your unique situation.

    When starting a thread, please include details about your husbandry: enclosure size, temps, lighting, humidity, hides, etc.
  7. Jlassiter

    Jlassiter Elite Member

    Good answer Aja!
  8. aldru

    aldru Member

    good points on the heat gradients and extra hides, thank you! and no, i dont have any pet rats or other snakes, there is a pet rabbit in the same room - would that perhaps be a possible reason? and its definitely a bite and chew, not strike behavior ... she is still young, i feed her twice a week, with two fuzzies on mondays and then one on thursdays. is it possible to overfeed her? is this enough/too much? i was wondering if she was maybe just hungry ... especially today, it was her feeding day so expected her to be a bit nippy. and i dont plan on breeding her so would MUCH prefer her to be friendly and easily handled!
  9. aldru

    aldru Member

    oh and set up is a 20 gal long tank, 30x12x12, one branch one hide plus a rock and a feeding dish. using some sort of crushed walnut shell substrate i bought from pet supplies plus which she seems to like ... constantly burrowing in it! very cute! i have a little undertank heater under her hide and a lamp overhead i use during the day for heat/additional illumination
  10. Jlassiter

    Jlassiter Elite Member

    If your snake is on the cool side it is conserving and ready to eat......
    if it on the hot side it is digesting and will probably not eat....
    If husbandry is optimal a growing kingsnake will refuse food when full and will not regurge after eating multiple prey items......

    Throw the light away...or at least get it away from your king. It dries the air and dehydrates the kingsnake.......the UTH is sufficient......if the room is kept cool.....and the substrate deep enough to isolate a hot spot......

    If you want her "friendly and easy to handle" then handle her in between least a day after feeding.......
  11. Melissa747

    Melissa747 Elite Member

    Try using a snake hook!
  12. Ptrkshine617

    Ptrkshine617 Member

    If your feeding your snake in the same enclosure then its asscosiating you reaching in the tank as feeding time. Feed him somewhere else
  13. justor

    justor Elite Member

    That is not entirely true. It is a possibility, but not every snake that is fed in its enclosure is going to think its owner is food. If you only put your hands in to feed, and never any other time then yea you are being associated with food. But if you're going in there every day to clean or change water or whatever else then that association should not be made because food is only being introduced a fraction of the times the cage is opened.
  14. aldru

    aldru Member

    i feed in a separate cage anyways because i want to avoid substrate ingestion... pretty sure i just have a snake who is always hungry. i feel the same way sometimes haha!

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